Sellers seek more for Rs. 20 lottery

The National Lotteries Board and the Development Lottery, the country’s two lottery operators, are planning to launch a new lottery series on August 20, with tickets priced at Rs. 20, double the current price of lottery tickets.

Meanwhile, the All-Island Lottery Sales Agents Union is threatening action unless the operators meet the union’s demand for a sales commission of 20 per cent per ticket. The union, which claims to have a membership of 3,000 sales agents and another 40,000 ticket vendors, has the backing of the UNP and the JVP.

Union president H. M. N. B. Herath told The Sunday Times that sales agents and vendors have for the past 25 years been selling tickets for a measly Rs. 1.50 per ticket. The union is demanding Rs.4 per ticket as commission for selling the new lottery series.

Mr. Herath said the union met with National Lotteries Board chairman A. P. de Vass Gunawardena on June 10, and that both parties were planning to meet again on July 25. Failure to reach an agreement that would give union members the 20 percent commission they were demanding could lead to trade union action in the form of a boycott ahead of the launch date, Mr. Herath said.

He said there had been no response from the Development Lottery, which had given the union neither a hearing nor an acknowledgement of a union request for a meeting to discuss outstanding issues.
Meanwhile, Lotteries Board general manager M. S. Karunaratne said the board was paying up to Rs. 700 million a year in commissions to sales agents, and that agents selling the new series of tickets would get a commission of Rs. 3.50 per ticket, more than double what they were getting at present.
Explaining the rationale behind the new lottery series, Mr. Karunaratne said these economically difficult times demanded an extra effort to make lottery tickets more attractive to the public.

He said prizes in the new series would be increased in value to 51 percent of sales, from the present 47 percent. First prizes would double in value and the number of consolation prizes would be increased, he said.

Mr. Karunaratne warned that if sales agents took extreme trade union action, such as boycotting ticket sales, the board would be compelled to appoint new sales agents. He said the board had received a number applications for new dealerships.

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